Moroccan government promises reforms

More freedom of expression

RABAT - The Moroccan government has promised democratic reforms of the press code at a meeting with journalists who pressed for the lifting of reporting constraints, the country's press union said Wednesday.
"We have presented the government with proposals for reform based on our philosophy, which is liberal," Younes Moujahid, head of the Moroccan National Press Union (SNPM) said after the meeting.
At the same time, journalists asked the government to lift restraints for reporting on such issues as the monarchy, Islam and Morocco's territorial integrity.
"My objective is to reconcile freedom with responsibility. We will find appropriate solutions, fine-tuning the text (of the code) to give it a more modern feel," Moroccan Communications Minister Khalid Naciri said.
Journalists' working conditions, independence and penalties for breaking censorship rules were among the issues discussed at a meeting Tuesday evening in Rabat between Naciri, the SNPM and the Moroccan Federation of Newspaper Editors.
"It is also necessary to set reliable criteria for media companies," said Zouheir Daoudi, a member of the SNPM national council.
The status of the electronic media, a growing presence on the Moroccan media scene, was also discussed.
"The electronic press must be regulated according to international norms," said Naciri, adding that "change is needed".
"Most of those who work for electronic newspapers come from independent media that were forced to close under economic pressure from the state," noted Ali Anouzla, founder of the site "lakome.com".
"The most important thing is to improve the climate in which the electronic press wants to evolve," he added, listing transparency as a key requirement.
In March, dozens of journalists from Morocco's official news agency demonstrated to demand editorial independence amid a push for pro-democracy reform in the kingdom.